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The only large, global trial testing of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 prevention is being conducted by UK's prestigious University of Oxford and the Wellcom-supported Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU). 

Established in 1979 as a research collaboration between Mahidol University (Thailand), Oxford University (UK) and the UK's Wellcome Trust, the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) conducts targeted clinical trials and public health research that aim to discover and develop appropriate, affordable interventions that measurably improve the health of people living in resource-limited parts of the world.

Mahidol University (MU) is an autonomous research institution in Thailand whose 1888 origin was Siriraj Hospital; Mahidol is among Thailand’s most prestigious universities.

The COPCOV stud is a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study aiming to enrol 40,000 healthcare workers to determine if hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can prevent COVID-19.

The researchers maintained that previous prevention studies were too small to show conclusive evidence of whether hydroxychloroquine can work or not as a preventative medication. 

They also added that early use of the drug is critical, and that safety concerns surrounding hydroxychloroquine have been exaggerated.

“There is no guarantee that we’ll soon have a widely available vaccine against COVID-19. 

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Despite all the publicity, we still do not know if hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19, but it’s really important that we find out, one way or the other. 

The only way to do this is to enrol a large number of participants in randomised controlled trials like COPCOV,” said Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust.

“Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have a very good safety record in the treatment of malaria and rheumatological conditions over the past 60 years. 

Billions of treatments have been given,” said said Professor Sir Nick White, COPCOV Co-Principal Investigator.

“Concerns that they might cause heart arrhythmias are not supported by the evidence from the randomised trials in COVID-19, and in rheumatological conditions hydroxychloroquine has actually been shown to reduce the risk of heart arrhythmias. 

There is very strong evidence that the doses being evaluated for prevention in the COPCOV study are safe,” White added.